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Week 3 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's the second week of the season and you're likely recognizing the identity of your team. Are you destined to make a season-long comeback because you went heavy on Rangers players like yours truly? Or are you riding high because you loaded up on the right mix of sleepers and prospects like Lars Eller, Tomas Hertl and Sean Monahan? Regardless of your place in the standings right now, it's the newly aligned NHL and the most subtle of schedule trends can send you spiraling or soaring in one night.

NHL schedule

Three of a Kind

High Percentage Teams (weaker schedules)

The Isles (BUF, EDM, CAR) are as solid as anyone heading into this week's schedule when they play three opponents sporting a combined record of 3-8-3 headed into Saturday's (10/12/13) action. In addition to John Tavares (DDS), Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey look to keep the party moving all the way to Brooklyn.

Colorado (DAL, DET, @BUF) faces a schedule of teams (4-7-1) that are getting outscored 31 to 21 so far. Adding to that contrast, Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have given up a total of three goals in four games this season.

Washington (EDM, NYR, CLS) and Montreal (at WPG, CLS, NAS) play a combined five of six from home against extremely under-performing teams as well.

In the meantime, you may want to avoid ...

Low Percentage Teams (tougher schedules)

Considering Jacob Markstrom's inability to put it altogether, that fuzzy feeling you had about Florida (at NAS, BOS, MIN) has likely died down with the news about Tim Thomas. No surprise they're getting outscored 21-13 in the early going.

At first glance, San Jose (at STL, at DAL, CAL) looks to be a good bet to stay hot this week. Look again and you'll see they travel for two of three, one of which will be the almost as hot Blues. Dallas' play has been unstable and Calgary's bottom could fall out, but something tells us Hertl and the Sharks will come back down to earth this week.

Don't misinterpret Carolina's (CHI, at TOR, at NYI) 2-1-2 record as well. Although Anton Khudobin (2-0, 1.50 GAA) has been quite stellar in his limited logged time, number one Cam Ward (0-1-2, 2.87 GAA) has been pedestrian at best. If Ward gets the nod for at least two of these starts, look out, Carolina could go from second in the Metropolitan to keeping the Flyers and Rangers company at the bottom.

Speaking of which ...

One Pair

Not only is their schedule almost exclusive to teams playing solid hockey, but players from New Jersey (at OTT, NYR), the Rangers (at WAS, at NJ), Philadelphia (VAN, PIT) and Calgary (at ANH, at SJ) will play just two games this week. Could this be the Sean Monahan train back to juniors? As old fashioned as we can be, we just can't seem them doing so, regardless of how the Flames play this week. Four games left and the clock is ticking.

Other pairs to consider:

Back-to-Back Jacks

In addition to all of the Four Aces (see below) playing on back-to-back nights once this week, these two teams are playing two of their three games on consecutive nights.

Thomas Greiss, G, Phoenix (OTT, at ANH, DET): For those (owned by 8% of CBS) considering picking up Greiss, you may hesitate when you see his opponent will either be the Ducks or Red Wings. As for Mike Smith's career numbers, in 13 games played against Anaheim, Smith is 8-3-1 (2.74 GAA), while in nine games played against Detroit Smith is 2-5-2 with 2.60 GAA.

Brian Elliott, G, St. Louis (SJ, at CHI, at WPG): Elliott had yet to appear in a game heading into Saturday's match-up with the Rangers. Head coach Ken Hitchcock is likely to give Elliott the nod against the weaker Jets and the white hot Jaroslav Halak against the cup champs, Chicago.

Four Aces

Raise (weaker schedules)

Detroit (at BOS, CLS, at COL, at PHX), Nashville (FLA, LA, at MON, WPG) and Vancouver (at PHI, at BUF, at PIT, at CLS) all play favorable four game schedules.

Daniel Alfredsson has 26 goals, 43 assists in 87 career games versus the B's. Alfredsson was kept quiet in last week's 4-1 loss in Boston, perhaps the second time in a week is the charm for the veteran Northeast rival.

Stephen Weiss has seven goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Avs.

There's always good old Pavel Datsyuk (goal, assist in four games), who has 173 points in 149 career games against this week's opponents.

One thing we love about Detroit's week is Jimmy Howard's career record (28-8-5, 2.23 GAA, 2 SO) against this week's opponents. How about even better news for Howard owners? He'll likely get three starts this week. Despite Jonas Gustavsson's fairly impressive career GAA (2.48) versus Boston, he's likely to draw the weaker Columbus team on Tuesday.

Fold (tougher schedules)

Minnesota (at BUF, at TOR, at TB, at FLA), Buffalo (MIN, at NYI, VAN, COL), Edmonton (at WAS, at PIT, at NYI, at OTT), Columbus (at DET, at MON, at WAS, VAN) and Dallas (at COL, SJ, at LA, at ANH) have busy but sketchy games likely to leave a negative impact on your week.

It's the regular season, so of course Niklas Backstrom (lower-body) is fighting a day-to-day injury. While Josh Harding has been solid in his two games since the Backstrom injury, his career record (19-42-6, 2.97 GAA) on the road is ugly, regardless of what team's he'll be facing this week. We'll leave this one up to you.

Offensively (9/11 GF/GA), things just are not panning out for the Wild, who have a four man log jam for scoring leader with three points, including Matt Cooke and Mikael Granlund. Perhaps Zach Parise's (three goals) Eastern Conference cred is still good, but we somehow doubt it.

It should be a telling week for Jonas Brodin (two goals, one assist), who will play in four arenas that he's stepped foot in.

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Player News
Steve Mason
Flyers' Mason May Have Suffered Significant Injury
Steve Mason, G, PHI
9:37 AM
News: Steve Mason left Friday's practice with what could be a significant injury, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The goalie was unable to leave the ice under his own power and required assistance to the locker room.
Analysis: Details remain scarce regarding his condition, but it looked to be a non-contact injury, as Steve Mason fell to the ice after his body seemed to inexplicably lock up. The Flyers' training staff will likely examine him extensively to see what kind of injury he's dealing with, so it might not be until Saturday that the nature of the ailment is revealed. Even if Mason's issue proves to be more minor than anticipated, Ray Emery still looks like the favorite to start Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs, and quite possibly, many more contests to come.

Michael Hutchinson
Jets' Hutchinson To Make Start Friday
Michael Hutchinson, G, WPG
9:30 AM
News: Michael Hutchinson was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and is in line to make the start Friday against the Bruins, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: No surprise here, as coach Paul Maurice has held steadfast to alternating starts between Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec for the last several games. Hutchinson has been generally brilliant since working his way into the timeshare, but turned in a stinker his last time out against the Ducks, surrendering three goals on 30 shot attempts. Tuukka Rask is expected to make the start in the opposite net for the Bruins.

Tyson Strachan
Sabres' Strachan Misses Two Straight Practices
Tyson Strachan, D, BUF
9:17 AM
News: Tyson Strachan (lower body) missed his second straight practice Friday.
Analysis: Coach Ted Nolan described Tyson Strachan's absence Thursday as being for "maintenance purposes," but back-to-back no-shows raise concern about his availability for Saturday's game against the Avalanche. His status likely won't be known until the Sabres conduct their gameday skate Saturday morning.

Brian Gibbons
Jackets' Gibbons Under Evaluation For Injury
Brian Gibbons, C, CLB
9:13 AM
News: Brian Gibbons is dealing with an upper-body injury and will be evaluated Friday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Brian Gibbons supplied an assist and two shots on goal in Thursday's overtime loss to the Capitals, but suffered the injury at some point during the contest and was limited to just 9:05 of ice time. The Blue Jackets should have a better idea of his condition after the evaluation, so he'll remain questionable for Saturday's game versus the Blackhawks until the team provides more information.

Leo Komarov
Maple Leafs' Komarov Skates Friday
Leo Komarov, C, TOR
9:09 AM
News: Leo Komarov (concussion) skated with the Leafs' strength and conditioning coach prior to Friday's practice, David Alter of MapleLeafs.com reports.
Analysis: It's just the second time that Leo Komarov has taken to the ice since suffering the concussion back on Nov. 29. The forward still remains under league protocol and hasn't been cleared to resume practicing with the team, likely making him at least a week away from a return to action.

Eric Tangradi
Habs Reassign Tangradi
Eric Tangradi, LW, MON
9:03 AM
News: Eric Tangradi was reassigned to AHL Hamilton on Friday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: The Habs activated Lars Eller (upper body) from injured reserve Thursday, leaving no incentive for the team to keep Eric Tangradi around. The winger has tallied no points across seven games with Montreal on the season.

Dustin Tokarski
Habs Reassign Tokarski
Dustin Tokarski, G, MON
9:00 AM
News: Dustin Tokarski was reassigned to AHL Hamilton on Friday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: Due to his lack of recent activity behind No. 1 goalie Carey Price, Dustin Tokarski will be sent to Hamilton for the weekend in order to pick up two starts. Look for Montreal to call up another goalie from the AHL in a corresponding move to serve as Price's backup for their game Saturday against the Senators.

Mike Weber
Sabres' Weber Returns To Ice
Mike Weber, D, BUF
8:57 AM
News: Mike Weber (knee) resumed skating Friday, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Analysis: Mike Weber isn't expected to return until around Christmastime, so he'll probably still need a few days of conditioning and practice time before he feels comfortable with his knee. He's already missed the last three games with the injury.

Robert Bortuzzo
Pens' Bortuzzo Passes Mumps Test
Robert Bortuzzo, D, PIT
8:40 AM
News: Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) tested negative for the mumps and has been cleared to rejoin the team.
Analysis: All of Robert Bortuzzo, Olli Mattaa, and Thomas Greiss fell ill Thursday, prompting the Penguins to isolate them from the rest of the team in the fear that they might have been the latest players to acquire the virus. Only Maatta tested positive for symptoms of the mumps, however, leaving Bortuzzo to resume his recovery process from the upper-body injury he sustained last Saturday. It's uncertain when he might return from that injury, but a better timetable should become available once he resumes skating with the team.

Thomas Greiss
Pens' Greiss Passes Mumps Test
Thomas Greiss, G, PIT
8:36 AM
News: Thomas Greiss tested negative for the mumps and has been cleared to rejoin the team.
Analysis: After Thomas Greiss was feeling under the weather Thursday morning, the Penguins wasted no time in isolating him from the rest of the team due to concerns that he might be their third player to have acquired the mumps. Fortunately, it appears his symptoms of illness were unrelated to the virus, and it now looks like he'll resume his usual backup duties behind Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday against the Panthers. Jeff Zatkoff, who served as the team's No. 2 netminder on Thursday while Greiss was unavailable, was reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday after Greiss' encouraging test results were revealed.

 
 
 
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